April 30, 2007

Hwy 580, Uncle Ted, and Josh Hancock

(above photo courtesy of Thomas Hawk)
It was usually pretty late at night when I traveled the Bay Bridge back to the Eastbay after a show. Every single time, I would read the first set of signs once I hit dry ground and the sign for 580 East would be on the left side of the free way, tired and usually reflecting on the evening's concert, I would move to the lanes beneath the sign only to remember when the next sign came that I needed to merge back to a middle lane to follow 580 E. I'm sure by now you've heard ad nauseum about the tanker truck carrying gasoline that exploded and essentially heated the overpass above it to the point it melted and collapsed. When I first saw the headline Sunday morning I thought some tragedy occurred, but I'm glad no one was hurt other than the driver who sustained burns. The video is pretty insane. I was realizing today that there isn't an equivalent to that major interchange up here in Anchorage. You might be thinking that I just made one of the more obvious statements in blogging history, but if traffic is different up here. If something happened in many places on the Glenn Hwy or the Seward Hwy, Anchorage would be cut off to all entry via car, (I guess ferry's could shuttle cars from Whittier to Valdez or Seward, but what a pain) try that on for size California.

Speaking of highways, I heard an interesting perspective on longtime Senator Ted Stevens (R-AK). Many people outside of Alaska get quite a kick out of his rant about the internet because he sounded a bit like Dana Carvey's SNL character "Grumpy Old Man." He's also been accused many times of finagling pork for Alaska with his seniority. The new perspective I heard was someone who said "yeah, but that's why we call him Uncle Ted, he's like a dirty uncle that gives you things he shouldn't and you love him for it." I guess I never thought of it that way. Alaska wouldn't be where it is today if it weren't for Uncle Ted...whether he receives his internets from his staff or whether they get stuck in the series of tubes.

Lastly I leave you with a sad note. You've probably heard about the untimely death of St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Josh Hancock. He's the second player that the Cardinals have lost in the last 6 years. He was a great ballplayer, teammate and friend to a lot of people. You might know that I'm a Cardinal fan, so the news took me by surprise and I have a heavy heart for his family and teammates. Watching the highlights of the game tonight, it is clear that the Cardinals have other things besides baseball on the minds. Albert Pujols even walked on 3 balls. I think Jeff Suppan, who played for St. Louis for the last few years and now plays for the Brewers and pitched against the Cardinals tonight, even showed signs of lack of concentration. It will be a while before baseball feels important to a lot of people. Josh will be missed.

Back in the Cell Phone Business

Before the birth of this particular blog, I worked in the cell phone industry for 3 years. I worked in every facet of Customer Service to which I got well versed in the tech side of cell phones. Alaska is definitely behind the times when it comes to technology in most respects, so gadgety phones were always obsolete up here, because no one (not us or our competitors) supported all the functionality. Another piece of this (and I am going somewhere with this) is that there are no top tier carriers up here. The big boys (Sprint, Verizon, T-Mobile and Cingular/ATT) are perfectly content to let the carriers up here handle their customers when they travel...and believe me, carriers up here are more than happy to have them. Take all these factors and add to them the fact that as cell technology is advancing, the limits begin to fall away for Alaskan carriers. In the coming few years, I anticipate that cellular in Alaska could not be differentiated from cellular in SF or Seattle. That being said, I want you to take a moment and indulge me your habits and with your dreams. First your habits. Tell me the top 3 things you do with your cell phone currently that you couldn't live without (making and receiving phone calls is a given).
To break the ice, mine are:
1. Email
2. Text Messaging
3. Web Browser (Scores and News)
Now your dreams. What is something that you wish you could do with your cell phone? I think I'd like to remotely start a car or tell my Tivo (yeah I finally got Tivo) to record The Office if I get dragged out to dinner. Maybe some phones can do this, but mine can't.

Addendum: You can leave your must have habits and dreams in the comments or email me at matt[at]mkinmotion[dot]com.

April 26, 2007


Spring in Alaska has always been an enigma to me. To the majority of humans it's not warm by any standards, but a sunny clear day of 50 degrees is pretty epic up here. I saw people playing softball in the park, lots of bike riders, joggers, and walkers. The street sweeping brigade came through Mountain View today and the line painting truck made its way through yesterday. While jacketless weather is still a few weeks away, the energy of longer days is kicking in. It'll be no time before you'll be subjected to fishing reports and minor minor league baseball.

April 24, 2007

New Music Tuesday: Are You Looking At Me?

As mentioned in last night's ramble, I'll be seeing Colin Hay in a few weeks. He's touring supporting his latest album which was actually released today. Are You Looking At Me? is a solid album that upon first listen departs from his previous solo records, but he also seems to be working to separate himself from the whole Men At Work thing. His voice is engaging and this album might be a little more accessible than his previous stuff. Nothing beats his solo version of "Overkill" or his Garden State contribution "I Just Don't Think I'll Ever Get Over You," but like I said it's a solid album and I look forward to the live performance.

Buy Colin Hay - Are You Talking To Me?

Find Colin Hay on tour (looks like Hillsboro is getting some love)

April 23, 2007

Randomness or What I Can Learn From Traffic Stats

It's pretty standard in the blog world that if your posting frequency drops off, so goes your traffic. Life's been pretty busy the last couple of weeks, but I really have no excuse for not posting. I'm adjusting to life in Alaska, but that's no excuse. I've moved into my new apartment (as sparse as the furnishings might be) and have spent considerable time unpacking and assembling furniture, but that's no excuse. I've been putting in longer hours at work to play some catchup, but that's no excuse. The catch-22 of blogging is that traffic can drive inspiration, but traffic requires content, content only comes by inspiration...and therein lies the rub.

Here are a few things that I can tell you from looking at traffic stats...

This post is likely to be read tomorrow (Tuesday), because there are very few visitors late in the evening. Alaska is an hour earlier than Pacific time, so I might as well be posting as you're drinking your morning coffee...or tea or Nescafe judging by the Chinese, Indian and Euro traffic. For some reason traffic hasn't dipped much internationally, just my perhaps finicky US readers have taken a hit. There are several hits that suggest some readers might be enjoying some Kaladi brothers while reading, which is encouraging as I'm a big fan of Alaskan traffic. There's something to be said for twittering or blogging about a pretty sweet overturned semi on the southbound Seward Hwy tonight or the cashier at Kaladi who never charges me the extra quarter for Vanilla in my 20 oz. SL. Or you might notice the events added to the sidebar are much different from Eric Clapton in San Jose or Son Volt at the Fillmore...instead you see Colin Hay and David Sedaris. Perhaps more on Colin Hay soon...

How about those Red Sox!?! Swept the Yanks in Fenway for the first time in 17 years or something like that. Sure the argument can be made that Boston had their best pitchers and New York's best pitchers are injured. Pettite's no slouch, and that's the way it works. Last year in the big sweep the Yanks put together I think the Sox threw Charlie Hough out there due to injuries.

I'm planning to get out this week or weekend to shoot some pictures, because let me tell you...there have been some beautiful days up here the last couple of weeks.

April 19, 2007

Mad Fishicisms

Got to spend some time with The Mad Fishicist and family tonight. A very enjoyable time. Found ever since I started using Twitter a bit, haven't been writing in complete or grammatically correct sentences.

April 17, 2007

New Music Tuesday: Covered Bridges of Portland

One album to recommend this week, as you can tell from the sparseness of the blog, I haven't had a lot of time to put into it. That will change soon...life will slow back down after a period of adjustment. This week an interesting release came out. Bridging the Distance is a cover album from artists from Portland, Oregon...my birthplace and where I consider my hometown. So you get the likes of The Decemberists, Britt Daniel of Spoon and Chris Walla of Death Cab and many others. The songs are all covers, some from the 60s, 70s and 80s. I listened to it all morning and I recommend it for a number of reasons. Not the least of which is the Portland ties, but also there are some great covers and proceeds go to a great cause. The album is a benefit album for p:ear. I haven't heard of p:ear before last night, but all that I've read is they're really doing a great thing for transitional youth. iTunes has the album for $9.99 but there are 22 tracks, so it's quite a steal. If you're more the downloader of individual songs, I recommend the songs by the three artists named above as well as The Minus 5's version of "That Smell", Viva Voce's version of "Eye in the Sky", and The Kingdom's version of "Sister Christian." There's a Springsteen cover by The Snuggle Ups that's pretty nice too. So why try to decide which songs, buy the whole album and support p:ear.

By Bridging the Distance

April 16, 2007

Someone's Broadcasting WiFi

First night in the new apartment. Sparse doesn't even scratch the surface. I bought kitchen appliances (Microwave, Toaster, Coffee), pots and pans, dishes, silverware/utensils. I just got back from getting groceries. Now I'm cooking my first meal here. Perhaps fittingly it's Mac and Cheese. Fired up the computer with only the expectation that I would watch a DVD or play some Freecell, but my WiFi card found a pretty good signal from a network nearby. I'm not going to exploit it or cause any trouble, but it's nice to have a little connection to the outside world. Tomorrow I'll be looking to buy a TV and something to set the TV on...and maybe a desk. The cable folks are coming on Wednesday to hook up broadband and digital cable...just in time for LOST. At least I have some priorities, right? No bed, no couch, but I'll have internet and TV...and food. I went to see The Whipsaws play Saturday night in Indian, AK. I'll post a mini review, but the short answer is that it was great to see them play again, but it will take some getting used to the contrast of venues like the Paramount Theater and The Fillmore.

April 13, 2007

Lyrics: More Than Words (Part Three)

I love The Beatles, so when this song came on the ol' iPod around noon today it somehow registered a little more true inspiring this post of the lyrics. Very simple song you all know, but the words hold a truth up here in Alaska these last few days. The weather reports kept calling for showers today, but it was a beautiful day and that means more melting. Most of the songs that John and Paul allowed George to contribute are gems, and this is no exception.

Here Comes The Sun (George Harrison)

Here comes the sun, here comes the sun,
and I say it's all right

Little darling, it's been a long cold lonely winter
Little darling, it feels like years since it's been here
Here comes the sun, here comes the sun
and I say it's all right

Little darling, the smiles returning to the faces
Little darling, it seems like years since it's been here
Here comes the sun, here comes the sun
and I say it's all right

Sun, sun, sun, here it comes...

Little darling, I feel that ice is slowly melting
Little darling, it seems like years since it's been clear
Here comes the sun, here comes the sun,
and I say it's all right
It's all right

April 12, 2007

Empty Space

I'm once again sitting at a coffee shop taking advantage of the WiFi. I'm finishing up here and headed to my new apartment to sign the paperwork. I'm sure I'll post more about the place but for now it's a lot of empty space.

April 10, 2007

Time Adjustment

I don't know whether I had adjusted to daylight savings time before I left California, but it definitely started all over again a week ago when I touched down in Anchorage. Time is different up here. Not only am I now in the Alaska timezone, which is similar to central time in comparison to Eastern...so when ABC says Lost is on 10/9 central...Lost is on at 9pm in Alaska. Other than the time zone is the rapid increase in daylight on both sides of the work day. It will keep getting lighter and lighter, but it's already lighter longer into the evenings than California. I've found myself working way beyond 5pm without noticing. The computer system I log into for work doesn't have a clock in the task bar and I work in what used to be a conference room, so there's no clock on the wall.
I expected to feel a lot colder. It's in the 40's which is warm enough to be melting the snow, but cold enough that California would declare a major emergency. So I anticipated being the only guy in a big jacket gloves and hat, but I stepped right into light jacket weather.
Work is taking up the majority of my time, which has put a cramp in blogging, but I'm still committed to it and even have some bigger projects in development. I've found updating Twitter a little easier to maintain than putting together a full post, so if you're on twitter, add me as a friend. If you're not on twitter, check it out and jump on the bandwagon.

April 5, 2007

In Case You Were Following Along...

...I've been in Anchorage since Tuesday night. Worked most of Wednesday and all day today. As for getting out and seeing the sights of the city...not so much. I've been pretty busy, but I did manage to see Lost last night and ate lunch today at Wings 'n Things....I had the wings...no things. I'll take some time soon to do a little more informative blogging, but for now I'll leave you with the dawn of Dice-K.

April 2, 2007

Lyrics: More Than Words (Part Two)

When I left Alaska in December of 2005, I quoted a famous John Denver song. As I ready myself to return in the morning, I take it full circle in this look at lyrics with a lesser known John Denver song.

Alaska and Me (John Denver)

When I was a child and I lived in the city
I dreamed of Alaska so far away
And I dreamed I was flying over mountains and glaciers
Somehow I knew Id live there one day

Well it took me some growin, and a fair bit of schoolin
And a little bit of trouble to get on the move
And I felt like a loser but I turned out the winner
When I came to Alaska the land that I love

Heres to Alaska, heres to the people
Heres to the wild and heres to the free
Heres to my life in a chosen country
Heres to Alaska and me

I was born in a cabin on Little Mulchatna
Raised in hard times but I had a good life
From the first time I flew with my father a singin
I knew that Id wind up a bush pilots wife

We sleep near the sound of a slow running river
And wake up most mornings to a drizzling rain
And we face every day like the first or the last one
With nothin to lose and heaven to gain

Heres to Alaska, heres to the people
Heres to the wild and heres to the free
Heres to my life in a chosen country
Heres to Alaska and me

Oh, for the fire on a cold winters night
And once more to gaze at the great northern lights
For all of the beauty my children will see
Heres to Alaska and me

Heres to Alaska, heres to the people
Heres to the wild and heres to the free
Heres to my life in a chosen country
Heres to Alaska and me

I'm not sure what part of Alaska inspired this song, but the lyrics are true to form. It's not a country road that takes me there rather a jet, but the feeling of returning to a familiar land rings true.

Opening Day

I went to the final exhibition game of the season yesterday and saw the Giants and the A's play in Oakland. I got to see Barry Bonds crush two home runs in his only two at bats. I can say there isn't much doubt as to whether he will pass Hank Aaron this season, he's in good shape and looks ready to play. He had the advantage of playing DH because of the AL park, so it will be interesting to see how playing the field will affect his at bats. Last night the Cardinals and Mets kicked off the regular season and Tom Glavine looked dominant against the defending champion Cardinals and the Mets lineup is going to make things interesting. Today is the big kick off of the season as 26 teams are playing today. Already the Yankees won and A-Rod homered in the 8th to solidify the win. With all the running around and last minute tasks for my move to Alaska, I wish I had the ability to watch some more baseball today...but I have promises to keep...and miles to go before I sleep...and miles to go before I sleep.

Royalty in the Smithsonian: Son Volt @ The Fillmore: March 30, 2007

My last California concert for who knows how long was at the Smithsonian of California music. Magnolia Electric Co. opened for Son Volt. I thought they were great, but I'm not sure the beauty of their songs was there live...or maybe it was just the night. I was glad to be front and center when Jay Farrar graced the crowd with his presence. In most alt.country/americana circles he's royalty. Going back to the days of Uncle Tupelo where he teamed with Jeff Tweedy and John Stirratt both now of Wilco, Farrar has been a pioneer in this generation of music. Uncle Tupelo is one of the bands that you can credit for splitting the mainstream up in the early 90's. Along with grunge, there was this other alt music happening with the Jayhawks, Pavement, and Uncle Tupelo at that time.
Son Volt is to Jay Farrar what Wilco is to Jeff Tweedy, and both men show they are happy and in complete control. Son Volt played loud and long. I didn't catch how long they played or how many songs, but it was definitely longer than your average rock show. There was stuff from the first Son Volt album Trace, and stuff from the latest release The Search and everything between. During one of two encores, Farrar jumped on keys to play the piano lick for "Slow Hearse", and it added to the magic of the song. What makes Son Volt special is the ability they have to jump between a rock song and a folky alt.country song. The guitar tech certainly got his fill of changing guitars from acoustic to electric, to Gretsch to Epiphone and back again. He got his money's worth when he joined the band on stage to play guitar in the finale. If you get a chance to see Son Volt, I recommend you take advantage of the opportunity to see a great solid rock band. And if you have a chance to see a show at the Fillmore, do it. Get there early and wander around the halls.